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Upton I 57
Strange Situation/Attachment theory/Upton: According to attachment theory, infants who have formed a good attachment to their mothers should be able to use them as a secure base from which to explore the novel environment. The stranger’s entrance should inhibit the infant’s exploration and cause them to move a little closer to their mother. When the mother leaves the room, the infant is expected to try to bring her back by crying or searching behaviours. A reduction in exploration of the room and toys is also expected. Following the parent’s return, infants should seek to re-engage in interaction. If distressed, they may also want to be cuddled and comforted. The same responses should be seen following the second separation and reunion. Based on their observations, Ainsworth and Bell (1970)(1) found that 66 per cent of infants behaved in this way and so classified them as securely attached.
Upton I 58
Insecurely attached children: reacted in two quite different ways:
a) Insecure-avoidant children showed little concern at their mothers’ absence. Instead of greeting their mothers on reunion, they actively avoided interaction and ignored their parents’ bids for interaction. These infants comprised 22 per cent of the sample.
b) Insecure-resistant children were distressed by their mothers’ absence, and behaved ambivalently on reunion, both seeking contact and interaction and angrily rejecting it when it was offered. These infants accounted for 12 per cent of the sample.
Later research (Main and Solomon, 1986)(2) added a further category, insecure-disorganised, which consisted of children who showed contradictory behaviour patterns and seemed to be confused or apprehensive about approaching their parents. >Attachment Theory/Cultural Psychology.



1. Ainsworth, M and Bell, S (1970) Attachment, exploration and separation: illustrated by the behaviour of 1 year olds in a Strange Situation. Child Development, 41:49—65.
2. Main, M and Solomon, J (1986) Discovery of an insecure-disorganized/disoriented attach
ment pattern, in Brazelton, TB and Yogman, MW (eds) Affective Development in Infancy.
Norwood, NJ: Ablex.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Attachment Theory
Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2020-09-19
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